Home » Books: Shorter Sometimes Best

You have formed an opinion (as you tend to do. Your mind is always whorling out ideas and assumptions, the necessary logic). Books, you have decided, are the only worthwhile forms of literature. The others – those short stories and novellas, the poems and plays – are unable to appeal. They cannot, you are certain, provide the needed character development, the exploration of themes. They are limited by their word count and lack of chapters. You must therefore ignore them, staying loyal to your favored tales, the epic journeys. They are the only meanings that matter.

This is, however, not a truth.

Books are to be praised. That should never be denied. They are not, though, meant to replace the value of smaller works – ones without the ease of endless pages. These short stories can instead provide experimental styles and massive impacts, all without exceeding your patience. They should be understood as important and be fully utilized.

The short story, as it name already defines, is a form of literature that is without the usual length of novels. It is typically constricted to between 7,000 and 9,000 words (there is some debate on this matter, however, with many arguing that a tale of merely 1,000 words can be considered part of this form. This has led to the questioning of the difference between this and the novella). Its purpose is to be read in one attempt and it is without chapters or typical divisions. It is a singular tale, with a limitation of characters and plot devices. It is, however, able to explore literary techniques and styles with far greater ease. There are no structures to follow. There is instead only the author’s whims – an advantage of not following the more accepted books and genres.

The short story is too often lamented by readers, believed to offer no real conclusions or values. It is, however, a form that can provide great power (with its messages made clearer due to the lack of distractions that can plague novels). It should not be dismissed. It should instead be celebrated.

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